Why Oracle choose to donate OpenOffice to Apache?

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The success story of Open Office took a nosedive when the proprietary software giant Oracle picked up Sun Microsystems and through it OpenOffice. With its donation toopenoffice_logo non-parent open source incubator such as Apache Software Foundation Oracle has once again broilered itself in more OpenOffice controversies. Is Oracle right in choosing ASF over The Documentation Foundation is a question that open source community is asking. The Documentation Foundation or TDF is where the original OpenSource. Org development team today develops the fork LibreOffice application suite.

Glimpse of OpenOffice.org history to understand the impact of the donation to ASF

As OpenOffice.org (as it is officially called for trademark reasons) is open source version of the original StarOffice application suite that Sun Microsystems sponsored to negate the dominance of Microsoft Office market share. When OpenOffice.org for commercial development was stopped and requests for less pervasive licensing were refused, the team behind OpenOffice.org, a highly popular application suite by then, forked to form the LibreOffice as another OpenSource application suite and here the subtle warring seemed to come to rest.

Oracle announces donating OpenOffice source code to ASF

In the first week of June, the rumblings began again, as Oracle chose to donate the source code of OpenOffice.org to Apache Software Foundation. Oracle Corporate Architecture Group chief Luke Kowalski while announcing the donation commented that ASF was the choice as it had ”a mature, open, and well established infrastructure to continue well into the future.”

It needs to be understood, clearly that every open source foundation prefers to adopt different levels of licensing its free software. Apache Software Foundation considered to be a second-generation open source organization places an onus on level of contribution of developer to projects and is essentially collaborative and consensus-based process. OpenOffice.org follows GNU Lesser General Public License v3 and earlier versions are dual licensed. The LibreOffice adopts the GNULGPLv3.

However, donation for mature licensing purposes- negates giving back to developer community ethic

The implication of the donation is that OpenOffice. Org will be relicensed under permissive Apache Software Licence 2.0. Therefore, the debate now boils down to permissive non-copyleft licences such as the ASL2.0 as against the reciprocity of GPL, LGPL that allow copyleft licensing for OpenOffice. Org.

Status quo

This is a burning question, as Open Source software as it stands today, needs integrity to survive, the lengthy struggle for free–license software against expensive proprietary software. Placing one accomplished open source program against another does not seem to bode good, as open source community needs to reinforce and offer best ‘free’ software and not compete against each other.

LibreOffice is being neutral in its reaction so far and appreciates that the donation allows de-licensing parts of OpenOffice.org. It is hoping both the application suites will be on-par players unaffected by the subtle warring of corporate giants hungry to control software licensing.

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